Drogba asks FIFA for permission to make loan move

GRAHAM DUNBAR AP Sports Writer Published:

GENEVA (AP) -- Didier Drogba has asked FIFA for special permission to move on loan from his Chinese club despite being outside the official transfer window.

FIFA said Wednesday it is considering the former Chelsea forward's request for an exemption from international rules.

"The FIFA administration services are looking into it," FIFA said in a statement.

Drogba's season with Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua finished this month.

If FIFA grants Drogba's request, the 34-year-old Ivory Coast captain could play for a new team to prepare for the African Cup of Nations, which kicks off on Jan. 19 in South Africa.

Existing rules prevent Drogba from representing another club until Jan. 1.

FIFA has upheld the rules in previous cases when David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan had to wait until January to make loan moves to Europe after the Major League Soccer season ended.

Drogba signed a contract through 2014 with Shanghai weeks after helping Chelsea win the Champions League title in May. He scored an 88th-minute equalizer against Bayern Munich, then struck the winning penalty in the shootout.

Drogba is an iconic figure in Chelsea history and was back at Stamford Bridge on Nov. 11 to see his old team draw 1-1 with Liverpool.

Chelsea appeared to be missing his powerful presence Tuesday in a 3-0 loss to Juventus in the Champions League, which led to manager Roberto Di Matteo being fired early Wednesday.

Even if FIFA relented and Chelsea was allowed to sign Drogba on a short-term contract, he could not play in its must-win final group match against Nordsjaelland on Dec. 5.

Champions League teams must register their squad lists for the group stage with UEFA in September before their first match.

Drogba joined Chelsea in 2004 from Marseille, where he was also hugely popular despite playing for only one season, helping it reach the UEFA Cup final.

He has often said he wants to return to Marseille one day, but club president Vincent Labrune thinks his wages would be too high for cash-strapped Marseille, which sold key players like midfielder Alou Diarra and utility player Stephane M'Bia to raise funds.

"Obviously I'm in favor of all great players who are capable of making financial sacrifices," Labrune said Tuesday on RMC radio. "If Lionel Messi wants to come, I'm in favor. But we're talking for nothing."

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AP Sports Writer Jerome Pugmire in Paris contributed to this report.

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Follow Graham Dunbar at https://twitter.com/gdunbarap